Chelsea Give Ranieri Breathing Space  (Sky Sports)

Jimmy Floyd HasselbainkChelsea 2-1 Manchester City
Zola 28, Hasselbaink 44; Dickov 81
FA Carling Premiership


Dean Gripton reporting

Manchester City provided a tough test of Chelsea's fragile confidence at Stamford Bridge but failed to display enough cutting edge in the crucial final third of the pitch.

With Chelsea cruising 2-0 ahead at half-time the locals wondered how many Claudio Ranieri's team would score against lowly City.

Instead, City dominated the second half and Chelsea's nerves barely survived when Paul Dickov pulled a goal back when he poached a rebound from Kevin Horlock's shot nine minutes from time.

Chelsea did survive though albeit unimpressively. "We needed three points," admitted Ranieri. "It is hard to play well when there is tension around the place," added the scorer of their first goal Gianfranco Zola.

Shaun Wright-Phillips stoppage-time volley flew just wide of Ed De Goey's goal with the Dutch goalkeeper stranded, so City gained nothing from a fighting second half show.

It had all seemed so rosy for Chelsea when Zola fully punished Alfie Haaland's 28th minute error. The Norwegian midfielder miscontrolled a throw-in 35 yards from his own goal, and Zola collected the loose ball before curling a lovely shot around Nicky Weaver.

Soon it was two. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink's 12th goal of the season was a fabulous finish from 15 yards after a Mario Melchiot cross from the right. Hasselbaink's instant left-foot volley was precise, so deadly.

Samuele Dalla Bona and Jody Morris were providing a youthful image to the Chelsea midfield and winning plenty of possession against the more experienced Haaland in the centre of the park, but it was on the flanks were City were dominating.

Danny Tiatto on the left and Wright-Phillips on the right were causing Chelsea real problems and de Goey had to save from both including his best, a 50th minute near-post block from the Australian Tiatto.

Gus Poyet and Winston Bogarde were introduced to help stabilise Chelsea who were clearly second-best after the break, and the Uruguayan twice came close in rare attacks to securing victory.

But when de Goey fumbled Horlock's drive for Dickov to score it was panic stations, and it was by mere inches that Horlock's 88th minute cross was too far behind the onrushing Shaun Goater.

Chelsea: de Goey, Babayaro (Harley 75), Leboeuf, Desailly, Melchiot, Morris, Gudjohnsen (Poyet 59), Dalla Bona, Zola, Terry (Bogarde 79), Hasselbaink.
Subs Not Used: Cudicini, Slatter.
Booked: Terry, Poyet.
Goals: Zola 28, Hasselbaink 45.

Man City: Weaver, Horlock, Prior, Howey, Charvet, Goater, Haaland, Whitley, Tiatto (Wiekens 67), Wanchope (Dickov 45), Wright-Phillips.
Subs Not Used: Wright, Dunne, Kennedy.
Goals: Dickov 82.
Att: 34,971
Ref: Dermot Gallagher (England).

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